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Man Boobs: Causes, Types, Diagnosis & Treatment Options

An A-Z guide covering causes, diagnosis and treatment options for different types of man boobs.

Man Boobs: Causes, Types, Diagnosis & Treatment Options2019-08-04T12:21:10-05:00

Man boobs is a word from pop culture that no self-respecting man wants to be associated with. If you scout the internet for the term man boobs, you can see it being loosely applied for breast enlargement in men. Let’s clear the confusion once and for all and take a look at what exactly does it mean by man boobs, the types of man boobs and how to get rid of man boobs.

What Does Man Boobs Exactly Means ?

Chest enlargement occurs in some men due to a number of reasons and becomes similar to a female breast in appearance. This enlargement of a man’s chest like that of a woman is named man boobs (man with a woman’s breast) by popular culture and has no relation with medical terminology. In medical terminology man boobs can be gynecomastia, pseudogynecomastia or mixed gynecomastia [1].

Types Of Man Boobs

Man boobs or enlarged breast in men can be caused by a number of factors. One of the most common cause is growth of excessive breast tissue which is called gynecomastia. [2] Man boobs can also be caused by fat that gets built up around and behind the nipples or areola and this is called fake gynecomastia or pseudogynecomastia. [3]


An illustration showing the difference between man boobs as a result of excess breast tissue compared to a normal chest in men

Gynecomastia is the excessive growth of breast tissue in men and is caused by high levels of the female hormone estrogen. The root cause of excess estrogen can be medication side effects [4], a pre-existing medical condition or a genetic disorder like Klinefelter syndrome [5]. All men have a certain amount of estrogen in their body and that is normal. In this type of man boobs, we are talking about abnormal and excessive levels of estrogen hormones.


An illustration showing the difference between man boobs as a result of fat accumulation compared to a normal chest in men

Pseudogynecomastia is the second main type of man boobs and is caused by pectoral fat that gets built up behind and around the areola [6]. If you are obese or overweight, you will definitely have chest fat and a lot of the times, men who are obese look at their chest and take it for granted as gynecomastia. Our chest and abdomen are the two most vulnerable areas for fat deposit. If you are over-weight, you will surely have proportional fat in your breast area. Fat also produces an enzyme called aromatase that converts the male hormone testosterone to the female hormone estrogen [2].

Man Boobs In Majority Cases

most cases of man boobs in men are a mix of breast tissue and fat

The classification of man boobs into strictly gynecomastia and pseudogynecomastia is mainly for clarity. In reality, breast enlargement in men is not that black and white. In majority of cases of man boobs, the underlying matter is a combination of breast tissue and chest fat. This is called mixed gynecomastia [7] and there is a reason as to why that happens in most cases. We will look at that that in the causes below.

Causes Of Man Boobs

what causes man boobs

There are a few key factors that causes man boobs and they are high estrogen levels, low testosterone, pectoral fat and low metabolism [2]. These are like the wheels in a system that turns each other. Excess estrogen signals the body to develop breast tissue, retain more fat in the chest, lower testosterone production as well as reduce metabolism which is how the body burns fat. Pectoral fat act as a secondary gland in the production of estrogen by secreting the enzyme aromatase that converts testosterone to estrogen [2]. This in turn increases estrogen levels and this forms a negative feedback loop [8]. These factors are the same for gynecomastia as well as  pseudogynecomastia but the loop starts in different ways.


In the case of gynecomastia or man boobs due to breast tissue growth, it starts with excessive levels of estrogen in the body as a result of any number of reasons. You may have carried them on from your puberty or as a result of medication or from a pre-existing medical condition. This excess level of the female hormone estrogen will signal the body to develop breast tissue [2]. It will also reduce the production of testosterone and retain more body fat in the body and especially in the chest. This chest fat then produces an enzyme called aromatase that converts testosterone to estrogen [2]. This then becomes a negative feedback loop adding more estrogen and reducing testosterone and increasing fat leading to higher rate of breast tissue growth [8].


In the case of pseudogynecomastia or man boobs due to pectoral fat, the process starts with excessive levels of fat in the body [3]. When we have a high level of fat, it reduces metabolism and it also reduces the production of testosterone. It is a very well established fact that testosterone levels and fat in the body are directly proportional. Body fat also produces the enzyme aromatase that converts testosterone to estrogen and this also creates excess estrogen that will develop breast tissue and signal the body to retain more fat in the chest [2]. This becomes a negative loop resulting in chest fat and breast tissue growth. This is why most cases of man boobs are a mix of breast tissue and chest fat [7].

Cause Of Man Boobs Among Steroid Users

Steroid users are one particular group that end up with man boobs from gynecomastia after a long period of cycling. The problem is not with the use of steroid use itself but rather the unsystematic use of it. A lot of steroids users unaware the side effects of continuous cycling develops gynecomastia [9]. The proper way is to cycle off for a period of time and undergoing post cycle therapy (PCT) that flushes the excess estrogen, bring back the testosterone production to normal levels and balances the hormone levels [10]. If you are using anabolic steroids, you must cycle off and go for  PCT. Failing to do is akin to a red carpet welcome invitation for gynecomastia [10]. Read more about post cycle therapy (PCT) treatment below in the treatment section for man boobs.

Excess estrogen levels caused by steroids can cause man boobs

Man Boobs Among Teenagers

Growth of breast tissue (gynecomastia) happens naturally during three times in the life span of a male and they are infancy, at the time of puberty and old age [11]. Yes, what you have just read is correct! Breast tissue growth happens as a result of the hormonal changes that happen while you are in puberty [12]. You are in no way an exception and between 50-60% of all teenagers experience this. This is called pubertal gynecomastia and these are not permanent man boobs that you need to worry about [13]. Now the good news is that, this excess breast tissue will go away as your chest flattens out when you enter adulthood. You do not need any treatment because this is a natural bodily change.

An image showing statistics about teenagers with man boobs

Need One More Reason To Quit Marijuana ?

Marijuana is one of the recreational drugs that can contribute to the development of man boobs [13]. This is being validated by a number of clinicians and physicians who works in the field. The National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) medical website, Medline Plus also lists marijuana as a factor that can cause breast enlargement. The same was highlighted by Dr. Anthony Youn, a CNN contributor in his widely talked about aptly titled story “Does smoking pot cause man boobs?” [14]. Physicians specializing in the treatment of man boobs are also seeing a trend where a large number of their patients have a history of marijuana use. So if you are currently using marijuana, take a decision today to quit it.

recreational drugs like marijuana can cause man boobs

Eating Too Much Estrogen ?

We usually consider food items in terms of vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates and fat but a lot of the food items that we eat on a daily basis or sees in the menu contain estrogen. This on top of your already high levels of estrogen can act like pouring propane into a hormonal inferno.

Man boobs can also be caused by consuming foods that are rich in estrogen

There is a very strong correlation between what we eat and how it affects our hormone levels. This is all the more true and evident when it comes to man boobs. Be it man boobs caused by excess breast tissue or fat accumulation, there is a very good chance that what you eat is contributing to it. In the case of man boobs caused by chest fat, you have to understand and accept the fact that you have a high level of fat content in your body. Some of us are genetically predisposed for fat reception from foods and as such, low fat diet will become a key part of our fight against losing chest fat. If you are very obese, you might be asked to shed some weight before you can undergo surgery as it helps the surgeon to do a better job in terms of giving a good chest contour.

The next table is a list of food items that are rich in estrogen. For a complete list of medications that have been known to directly or indirectly cause gynecomastia and a list of food items that are rich in estrogen and testosterone, read the page on causes of gynecomastia. [15,16,17]

Food Items Rich In Estrogen

No: Description
1 Soybeans and soy products
2 Oats
3 Beans
4 Rice
5 Sesame seeds
6 Apples
7 Rice bran
8 Carrots
9 Tempeh
10 Tofu
11 Coffee

Diagnosis Of Man Boobs

Diagnosis of man boobs must always be done by a medical professional. Your family doctor or general physician will be able to do this but it is best done by a physician who is specialised in the diagnosis and treatment of gynecomastia. There are multiple ways that a doctor can find the composition of the underlying matter but a classic technique is shown below. Again, do not self-diagnose and always see a medical professional.

How Doctors Diagnose The Type Of Man Boobs ?

In this approach, the patient lies flat on his back with his hands clasped beneath his head. Using the separated thumb and forefinger, the examiner slowly brings the fingers together from either side of the breast. In patients with true gynecomastia, a rubbery or firm mound of tissue that is concentric with the nipple–areolar complex is felt. In patients with pectoral or chest fat, no such disk or tissue is found [18].

A doctor performing physical examination for diagnosis of man boobs

Treatment Of Man Boobs

An image that talks about the different treatment options for man boobs

I am using the word “treatment” in the broadest sense and treatment must always be done after diagnosing the composition of your man boobs and then addressing the root cause accordingly. The main treatment options for man boobs are compression vests, supplements and surgical removal. We look at them in detail below.

Compression Shirts

Compression shirts/tanks are an ideal option to hide man boobs. These days, almost all major companies have their line of compression shirts that are marketed in one or another name. They are very ideal if you do not want to spend a lot of money as well as if you only have a enlargement of your chest that you don’t want others to see when you go out [19].

A man wearing a compression shirt to hide his man boobs
  • Staring at $20 and above, compression vests are cheapest option available to hide your man boobs.

  • The effects are instantaneous and fast. This becomes helpful especially when you have a function coming in the next few days and you want to show up with your best chest.

  • Compression vests also helps you experience how your chest will look like without man boobs and this is a huge motivating factor to work at getting rid of them either through supplements or surgery.

  • The main drawback is that they are only good for temporarily hiding your man boobs.

  • Initially, you feel some inconvenience as it will bind to your chest but that should go away in the next few days.

Read More

Supplements For Man Boobs

Supplements are the less expensive option to get rid of man boobs. They are also one of the fastest growing speciality supplements in the market with about 17 million men in the United States alone having gynecomastia. The ingredients in these supplements are selected and dosed together to burn off chest fat and to increase the production of testosterone. The basic goal is to cut off elements that facilitate estrogen production and to flatten the chest by eliminating pectoral fat. Gynexin and Gynectrol are the leading supplements for man boobs currently available in the market.


An image of a supplement to get rid of gynecomastia
  • 8 Years In Market

  • Made In U.S.A

  • 1 Month Dosage Costs $69.95.


An image of a supplement that targets chest fat or pseudogynecomastia
  • 3 Years In Market

  • Made In U.S.A

  • 1 Month Dosage Costs $61.99.

Detailed Supplements Review

Man Boobs In Steroid Users

Post cycle therapy for steroid users who developed man boobs

The web in general and fitness forums in particular are filled with horror stories about steroid users who develop man boobs as a result of non-systematic steroid use. When you use steroids, you are opening up your body to an increased level of estrogen production and decreased levels of testosterone production. If this excess estrogen production is not managed properly, it will lead to excess breast tissue growth and man boobs. Steroid users should cycle off and flush the excess estrogen through post cycle therapy (PCT). Read the post cycle therapy to avoid gynecomastia in steroid users page for detailed information [9,10].

  • Prevents Breast Tissue Growth

  • Balance Hormone Levels

  • Prevents Water Retention

  • Liver Support

  • There is a chance for side effects like thinning of hair, leg cramps. the sensation of tingling in the skin, bouts of headache and mild nausea, hot flashes and reduced sexual interest. Not everyone will experience these side effects and it depends from individual to individual.

Post Cycle Therapy

Surgery For Man Boobs

Surgery is one of the options to get rid of man boobs

Surgery for man boobs is one of the surefire treatment options because it goes to the root cause of your breast enlargement and removes it [20]. For individuals who have found non-surgical supplements as less effective, surgery is the next logical option. This is what celebrities do to get their best chest and with the skillful hands of a doctor who specializes in surgery for man boobs, you will come out with a totally different chest. The surgical technique for removing breast tissue and pectoral fat is different [21]. Surgery for gynecomastia is called reduction mammoplasty and surgery for removing fat is called liposuction [22,23]. Read our dedicated page on breast reduction surgery for more information.

A surgeon specialised in the surgery of man boobs
  • 100% guarantee that you will lose your man boos.
  • You get 100% tailored treatment option from a surgeon specialising in gynecomastia.

  • In a matter of 2-4 days, you will have a completely different and absolutely better chest.

  • Surgery and recovery takes only 2-4 days and you can return home.

  • Surgery is not covered by almost all insurance providers unless you meet these 3 eligibility criteria for gynecomastia insurance coverage.

  • The cost can be anywhere between $6000-8500 depending upon the location and profile of your surgeon [24].

Breast Reduction Surgery

Medical Review Team

Medical reviewer at Gynecoma.comThe content of this page was fact-checked and medically reviewed by Dr.Sergii Vasyliuk MD on October 22, 2018. You can read more about Dr.Sergii Vasyliuk MD and his credentials at our about us page.

The content of this page was fact-checked and medically reviewed by Dr.Marija Petkovic MD on December 19, 2018. You can read more about Dr.Marija Petkovic MD and her credentials at our about us page.



Suggested Further Reading


honest gynexin review with before and after images

a detailed guide about causes of gynecomastia

a-z guide to gynecomastia surgery

compression shirts for men with gynecomastia

the best workouts to lose chest fat for men

A-Z guide to pseudogynecomastia

an image of a doctor explaining the different available gynecomastia treatment options

a definitive guide covering everything on gynecomastia surgery cost

a-z guide to breast reduction supplements for men

a comprehensive guide to post cycle therapy to get rid of gynecomastia

the main requirements to get insurance coverage for gynecomastia surgery

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